The Cause of Black Panther & The Crew’s Cancellation

This weekend news broke that after two issues, Marvel’s Black Panther & the Crew has been canceled.

The series revolved around Black Panther, Storm, Luke Cage, Misty Knight, and Manifold who band together to take on a dangerous wave of street-level threats in this new ongoing series by co-writers Ta-Nehisi Coates (New York Times best-selling author of Between the World and Me and Marvel’s Black Panther) and Yona Harvey (Black Panther: World of Wakanda) and legendary artist Butch Guice!

The death of a Harlem activist kicks off a mystery that will reveal surprising new secrets about the Marvel Universe’s past and set the stage for a big story in the Marvel Universe’s near future. Fear, hate and violence loom, but don’t worry, The Crew’s got this: “We are the streets.”

Anyone who thinks the cancellation has to do with “poor sales” and not the comics’ themes of racial justice and unapologetic blackness can line up and purchase some beachfront property I own in Wyoming.

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Sweet 16: Top Films of 2016

For the better part of a decade, this has become an annual tradition for yours truly.

From January to December I compile a list of the best, artistic and most progressive films, television shows, and music albums. One of the reasons I do this is to provide resources to readers who are looking for cerebral, fun, and progressive media. It does exist as my lists have continued to prove. Don’t say I never gave you anything. You’re welcome.

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Review: X-Men Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse.

I swore I wouldn’t write a review for the film. Primarily because any review I penned would pale in comparison to the excellent piece penned by my buddy and fellow N.O.C. colleague, Valerie Complex.

Seriously if you haven’t read it, go do so now. Val snatched so many wigs and edges, you would’ve thought Director Bryan Singer and Fox were members of the Charles Xavier Cosplay Appreciation Society.

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Kickstarter Secrets with Greg Pak

Recently Fearless Leader (known to some of you as Keith Chow), informed the N.O.C. collective that legendary comic book writer Greg Pak had a new Kickstarter campaign and wanted to see if anyone would be interested in interviewing him.

My response to Fearless Leader:

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X-Men Apocalypse: Fox Wins But People of Color Lose

Don’t expect this movie to rely heavily on the source material. Director Bryan Singer presents a film that’s a hodge-podge of various stories made up by people who know nothing about the X-Men. Aside from Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Apocalypse (Oscar Issac, doing well with whatever the hell he is given) being mildly entertaining, they can’t save the film from imploding. Everyone else is either used as filler or bores you to death with their on-screen presence. Choppy action scenes are put in place to mask the uninteresting, underdeveloped characters, cheesy dialogue, Playstation 2-quality special effects, and makeup that looks like it was bought from the bargain bin at Chapel Hill Beauty Supply. The worst part is the newcomers don’t get their chance to shine like the trailer would have you believe. Particularly the characters of color.

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Never Buy Black Panther Graphic Novels During Black History Month

I’m always fascinated when white geeks go on and on about how accepting and wonderful geek culture is. I don’t question their experience, I just can’t personally relate. For me, I have to be cautious of what venues of fandom I venture in, because it’s not unlike walking through gen pop, where you constantly have to look over your shoulder to make sure an inmate or warden doesn’t attempt to shank you. Or a better analogy would be making sure that while you’re always outnumbered, that you’re never outgunned like my patronus Midnighter.

The following happened a few years ago, but this tale definitely warrants a post just the same.

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The Most Watched Hard N.O.C. Life Episodes

We’re continuing the celebration of our two-year anniversary week with another look back. This time, we’re going to count down the top ten most watched episodes of Hard N.O.C. Life, our (semi-)weekly YouTube series where I talk to folks about various topics.

When the site first launched in 2013, the idea for a YouTube show utilizing the Google Hangout format was going to be one of the main pillars. I had just come off a stint appearing on a similarly formatted show about basketball (more specifically, about Jeremy Lin) created by Terry Park for Asian CineVision and thought the format would be great for talking comics, movies, and TV. And thus, Hard N.O.C. Life
was born!

So just like we did yesterday, we’ve combed through the archives to find these, the ten most viewed HNL episodes over the last two years.

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The Unlikely Muse

Originally published on Latin Negro

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

— Toni Morrison

They say necessity is the mother of all invention and by extension, creativity. As a storyteller I’ve certainly found that to be true for the narratives I penned. As a queer geek of color, I’ve learned early on that geek culture is for white people for a number of reasons, and to be a PoC or an LGBTQ means to be treated like a pariah.

More than that, countless marginalized characters are endlessly undercut and buried due to the rampant bigotry that pervades the media. Extraordinary characters such as Storm (the First Lady of Marvel), Renee Montoya, Regina Mills, Freedom Ring, Midnighter, Cassandra Cain and countless others who have been lightning rods for racism, misogyny, and/or homophobia by fandom and the industry alike.

But as any artist will tell you, inspiration can often come in the unlikeliest of forms.

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Five Marvel Characters Who Deserve Their Own Vehicles

Nearly two years ago today, Marvel Comics announced its initiative to be more progressive in its comic book lineup. Surprisingly they have stuck with said initiative and it has paid off for them immensely in sales, mainstream interest and general good press. Many of the editorial decisions The House of Ideas have made are commendable.

From introducing Miles Morales, a female Thor, the new Ms. Marvel, to the all female X-Men team, Mighty Avengers, to Storm finally getting her long overdue ongoing solo series, Marvel is renewing its commitment to meet the diverse demographic of its readers. It was this type of initiative that translated into Marvel’s success in the past.

With that being said Marvel has often committed the Cardinal Sin of either shelving or misusing some excellent characters who would definitely result in profitable returns. This might be shocking news for some at Marvel but they do have characters other than Wolverine. Characters, who if given the right opportunity have crossover and mainstream appeal that would result in elevating Marvel’s success to the next level.

The following are five excellent examples of said characters.

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NOCs of the Roundtable: Olivia Munn is Psylocke

On Monday, director Bryan Singer revealed on Instagram that he had cast Newsroom star Olivia Munn as Psylocke in the upcoming reboot/sequel X-Men: Apocalypse. And if you’re wondering, Pyslocke was previously portrayed by Mei Melançon in X-Men: The Last Stand, but everyone knows that movie doesn’t count (and after the events of the last X-Men movie, none of the other ones do either).

Due in theaters next year, Apocalypse continues the period-set aesthetic of the new X-Men franchise. While First Class was set in the 1960s and Days of Future Past in the 1970s, Apocalypse will take place during the 1980s, which is fitting since that’s the time period that saw Betsy Braddock go from a supporting role in Captain Britain to a full-fledged member of the X-Men. She’s also one of the first characters to undergo a convoluted, but canonical, race swap in the pages of the comic.

Anyway, some of the Nerds convened around the old Roundtable to talk about Olivia’s casting in the next X-Men film.

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Things I Finally Did Right in Artists Alley

by Greg Pak | Originally posted on GregPak.com

In our book Make Comics Like the Pros, my co-writer Fred Van Lente provides some spectacular advice about how to work a comic book convention. This year at the New York Comic Con, I took Fred’s advice seriously and did my Artists Alley table up right for the first time. And I had my best con ever!

So here’s what I did:

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Ballad of an AfroGeek

The above image is from the cover of my upcoming book: Diary of an AfroGeek.

Being an AfroGeek is all about being comfortable, and expecting, to hold immense contradictions. It is loving Firefly, Serenity, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but having a strong feeling that Joss Whedon doesn’t love you back. It is about getting into passionate discussions about why and how Storm’s original mohawk incarnation was one of the more powerful political statements in comics, but being appalled at how uninteresting she became when she married Black Panther.

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Creating a Perfect Storm

At a time when many comics fans are clamoring for more gender and race representation in superhero comics, one character has been the benchmark for strong women heroes of color for decades. And the X-Men’s Storm is currently receiving a bit of a creative renaissance with Marvel recently launching her first ever solo series.

On the latest episode of Hard N.O.C. Life, guest host Shawn Taylor (@reallovepunk) discusses the importance of the character with an all-star panel: Storm writer Greg Pak (@gregpak), actress Maya Glick (@MayaSokora) — creator of the Kickstarted Storm fan film Rain, and Storm superfan Jamie Broadnax of @BlackGirlNerds.

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The Carcosa Interview: Greg Pak

by William Evans | Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

At Black Nerd Problems, two types of people that will always appeal to us are: 1) those that “get it” when it comes to diversity and representation in our geekdom and 2) really smart individuals. Greg Pak is both of those. As the comic book writer responsible for Batman/Superman, Action Comics’ recent resurgence, the most heralded Incredible Hulk books in the last ten years and the first ongoing series for Storm, Pak has made a huge impact in the comic book world. But as we found out, there’s still a lot more beyond comics that make him such an interesting talent.

This interview could’ve been three times as long, but not wanting to keep the man from all this good work he’s involved in, we got to talk about the politician that never was, beating down superheroes, and I even snuck in a little bit of NBA talk.

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NOC Reviews Storm #1

To be transparent: no Storm solo book would have met my incredibly high expectations. I’ve written before on how important the character was to me during my nascent nerd-dom. Anything that fell outside of my nostalgic high for the character would have no other option but to fall short. I just wasn’t prepared for how short this new Storm book fell.

What follows is my review process:

  • I look at only the art. Without words, can I still glean the story?
  • I read the words. Is the story creative, coherent, interesting, etc?
  • I read the book to gauge the marriage of the aforementioned. Do the words and art work in concert, or are they in opposition? Are the worthy of each other?

Minor spoilers follow.

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Storm: An Excerpt from Diary of an AfroGeek

What follows is an excerpt from my new book, Diary of an AfroGeek. It will be released later this year.

ImageI’ll let my childhood friend, Emile, set the tone:

“Storm was gangsta! Not now, and especially not in the movies or cartoons. The essence of how and why he was so ill was captured in X-Men 170 and 173; blood, Storm was unfuckwittable. She was everything black comic readers needed — particularly those of us who were black, but were also more than black; who participated in a non-stereotypical kind of blackness. People always want to hold Batman up as the most hardcore of them all. Not even close. Batman’s balls can’t even compare to Storm’s weather controlling uterus.”

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School of Hard NOCs: X-Men #1-3

x-men-1-001 Vitals: X-Men #1-3 are the first three issues of the re-launched X-Men title, and serve as a natural jumping on point for anyone who hasn’t been reading. It made national news earlier this year for featuring the first ever all-female X-Men line-up.

Plot: We rejoin the X-Men to find that most of them are now teachers at the Jean Grey Institute for Gifted Children. Jubilation Lee, code-named Jubilee, has resurfaced as the caretaker of an adorable little baby boy and is seeking refuge in the home of her old teammates. Little does she know that she has unintentionally led one of the X-Men’s foremost foes — the sentient bacteria John Sublime who is capable of taking control of any organic being — right to the X-Men’s doorstep. It turns out that Sublime is also seeking help from the X-Men, this time to confront a long-lost evil twin, the sentient technoorganic bacteria Arkea who is capable of controlling all things technological. How does a bacteria do that? It’s a sentient bacterial cell, people. Let’s just go with it, okay?

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Your Pre-NYCC Pull List

It’s Wednesday again! But not just any ordinary Wednesday. For those of us on the east coast, today marks the calm before the storm that is New York Comic-Con! Speaking of which, be sure to swing by Booth #2010 and visit me and my SIUniverse buddies at the Epic Proportions mega-booth. We’ll have signings by Greg Pak, Bernard Chang, Cliff Chiang, Larry Hama and Walt Simonson all weekend.

Now that that’s out of the way, keep reading to see what are some books that I think folks will be buzzing about on the con floor. And find a comic shop near you, so you don’t miss out on the conversation.

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How to Not Screw Up a Black Panther Film

A while back, Avi Arad stated “they” (I’m assuming Marvel Studios) had a “great take” on a Black Panther film, and follows this up with referring to the film thusly: “It’s like black Indiana Jones.” Really? A monarch of one the most technologically advanced societies in the world, not to mention that this society is in Africa — just how in the jolly green fuck can you relate this to Indiana Jones?

T’Challa is a king, a diplomat, a scientist, an athlete, a super hero… He makes Indiana Jones’ racist, plundering adventures obsolete. To make a great Panther he has to be regal and own his arrogance — not use his arrogance as a front for insecurities, a la Tony Stark. He doesn’t fail up like Indiana Jones. He strategizes and then takes chances. If T’Challa were in Raiders of the Lost Ark he would have just let the Nazis open the Ark and watched them all melt. He wouldn’t have engaged in all that unnecessary adventuring. The Black Panther is a character unto himself. He needs to be afforded the same care and consideration of the other Marvel-verse heroes and their various “phase” films.

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